Ronald J. Rychlak

Ronald J. Rychlak is the associate dean and MDLA Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law. He is the author of Hitler, the War, and the Pope (Revised and Expanded) (2010) and Righteous Gentiles (2005).

recent articles

A War Prevented: Pope John XXIII and the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Holy See is the oldest continuing international organization in the world. Its Secretary of State office was established in 1486, and that is also when its first permanent representatives were established in Venice, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and France. Today, the Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with 176 states. It is also the … Read more

Anthony Weiner, Sarah Palin, and State Property

All employees should be cautious about using their employers’ property for personal purposes. This is doubly true for government employees, who are guardians of the public’s property. They must be careful not to violate the public trust. As a state employee myself, I evaluate these issues by asking whether I could justify the private use … Read more

The First Catholic President — Almost

Most people know that John F. Kennedy, elected in 1960, was the first Catholic president of the United States. Many are also aware that Al Smith was the first Catholic to run for the presidency, in 1928. Very few, however, know about the Catholic Civil War general who almost became Abraham Lincoln’s vice-president and would … Read more

Teachers, Tenure, and Labor Unrest

As a tenured professor at a state school with a conventional pension plan, I have been very interested in the recent labor unrest in Wisconsin. Throw in the facts that my grandfather was a local politician in Wisconsin and that I have a first cousin in that state who is an elementary teacher, and the … Read more

Remembering the Alamo

One hundred and seventy five years ago, on March 6, 1836, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Colonel W. B. Travis, and about 180 other brave men were killed trying to defend the Alamo. Their deaths have come to symbolize courage and sacrifice for the cause of liberty, and the call to “remember the Alamo” survives even today. … Read more

IVF: Money over Morality?

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is currently trying to determine whether infertility treatments should be included in individual and small-business health-care policies that will be made available through state-based insurance exchanges in the new health-care plan. If these treatments are deemed an “essential health benefit,” they will be covered when these policies … Read more

Remembering Sargent Shriver

Sargent Shriver, brother-in-law of John, Bobby, and Ted Kennedy, founding director of the Peace Corps, and one-time Democratic vice-presidential nominee (among numerous other accomplishments), passed away this week. I only met him once in person, but we exchanged phone calls and a series of letters regarding our shared interest in Catholic history, and I came to … Read more

Natural Law from a Birmingham Jail

On April 12,1963 — Good Friday — Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a group of about 50 anti-segregation protesters into downtown Birmingham, Alabama. It was a peaceful protest, but they were not naïve: They knew that their message would offend and cause problems. King was not surprised when they were all arrested. Eight white … Read more

General Patton and the Third Army Prayer

During the Christmas season of 1944, General George S. Patton was leading the Third Army into Germany. Many Americans thought World War II was virtually won in the European theater, but in December Germany launched its last major offensive of the war. Overnight, Allied soldiers found themselves facing a tough fight in hard and cold … Read more

A New Pledge of Allegiance Controversy

A local attorney has made national news: Danny Lampley of Oxford, Mississippi, was found to be in criminal contempt of court because he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of a session of Chancery Court. Judge Talmadge D. Littlejohn wrote: “The court having ordered all present in the courtroom to stand … Read more

The Imam at Ground Zero

The debate over the mosque at Ground Zero and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is of particular interest to me. I know Imam Rauf. Five years ago, he and I were participants in an interfaith dialogue event that took place in Rome. I spoke with him over the course of several days. I have read his … Read more

On Handguns and the Constitution

On June 28, in the case McDonald v. Chicago, the United States Supreme Court held that cities and states cannot interfere with the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. The city of Chicago had tried to ban handguns, but Chicago resident Otis McDonald challenged the law, arguing that it made him less safe. … Read more

Tweeting about an Execution

I don’t really understand the whole Twitter phenomenon, but I do know that it set off a small firestorm when Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff tweeted several times about the execution of convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner. At first he wrote: “A solemn day. Barring a stay by Sup Ct, & with my final nod, … Read more

Responding to the Oil Spill

The Mississippi Gulf Coast still has not fully recovered from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and yet here we are, awaiting another catastrophe. Massive quantities of oil are being released from a sunken off-shore drilling platform, about 5,000 barrels per day. The full impact of this disaster has not yet been realized, … Read more

Another Polish Tragedy

  The nation of Poland is still in shock over the plane crash that killed 97 people, including President Lech Kaczynski, first lady Maria Kaczynska, the national bank president, the deputy foreign minister, the head of the National Security Office, the deputy Parliament speaker, the Olympic Committee head, two presidential aides, several priests, and 17 … Read more

St. Valentine’s Day

Last year, my Constitutional Law class was discussing the so-called war on Christmas, part of the effort to remove all things religious (or at least all things Christian) from the public square. One of my students argued that holidays did not need to have a religious basis. As an example, she mentioned Valentine’s Day. I … Read more

Of Security and Human Institutions

On Christmas day, a Delta Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit narrowly escaped catastrophe when an intended suicide bomber who had passed through security could not get the plastic explosives he hid in his underwear to detonate. The attempt occurred as the plane was on its final descent, 20 minutes from landing, with 289 people … Read more

Trying Terrorists in Civilian Courtrooms

Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced the Obama administration’s decision to try the self-confessed 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), and his four alleged co-conspirators in a civilian New York criminal court. Purportedly, this is being done to demonstrate to the world that the American judicial system is just, and that the United States will … Read more

Legal Lessons from the Polanski Case

Most law professors who have had the opportunity to teach criminal law agree that it is a fun course. There is much discussion of morality, intentionality, deterrence, and other intellectually stimulating topics. On the other hand, you also have to deal with rape, which is both difficult and uncomfortable.   One rape case that we … Read more

The Health-Care Debate from Overseas

Knowing that I had spent the summer in England, a fellow law professor recently asked me whether “the Republicans” had hired me to advertise against the president’s health-care plan. My response was, “No, but they could have.” I would have done it for free. Watching the health-care debate from the other side of the Atlantic … Read more

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